Rand Paul and the Sweet Smell of Your Own Crap

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Yesterday morning Sen. Rand Paul went over to Howard University. And it didn’t go terribly well. One might say that’s only to be expected in a case like this – perhaps even the whole point – since the aim is to break the ice between communities either antagonistic to each other or thoroughly out of communication. But it’s more an example of what happens when a staunch conservative steps out of the GOP’s tightly-drawn racial nonsense bubble and hits an audience not dying to be convinced that the GOP’s problems with non-whites are the results of boffo misunderstandings about a Republican party that is actually the best thing that ever happened to black people.Every organization or group finds way to dish nonsense to the foot soldiers. But real life isn’t always so schematic and unidirectional. Good faith and bad faith and bamboozlement aren’t always neatly separated. When you look at who’s the bamboozled and who’s the bamboozler in this part of the GOP subculture you see that it’s not so clear cut. Often they’re all rolled together in a person.

For about a generation you’ve been able to go to pretty much any conservative confab and find some race huckster peddling a moron’s call and response about how the GOP, far from being the country’s key remaining political redoubt of racial animus, is actually an awesome party for Civil Rights against Robert Byrd and the Democratic Klu Klux Klan.

Hey, did you know Frederick Douglass was a Republican? No? It’s totally true! Or the people who founded the NAACP? Each is designed to lead to piqued moments of thought followed by, ‘Yeah, you’re right! I’m not the racist. You’re the racist!’

Or, to put it differently, all building toward the epic moment when you put on a ‘racial outreach’ panel event at CPAC entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” How could that go wrong?

From one choice passage from our article

“Would everyone know here they were all Republicans?” [Sen. Paul] said at one point, referring to the NAACP’s founders.

“Yes!” came the booming response from nearly the entire audience, who appeared offended Paul would even raise the question.

So the big take away I guess is that these black people actually know something about their own history. So there’s that.

The gist of what happened yesterday was that Paul took this clown show to an audience at an historically black college where, yeah, they actually do know that Lincoln freed the slaves and that Frederick Douglass was a Republican. And they’ve even heard about the Dixiecrats. After I reading Benjy Sarlin’s account I was surprised Paul didn’t introduce himself by thanking the crowd for welcoming him to the ‘Democrat Party Plantation.’

Rand’s surprise was akin to one of those old Bugs Bunny cartoons when Bugs’ nemesis walks over a loose floorboard and the board flies up and whaps the guy right in the face. You can become so lost in your own story that you confuse your conciliation with your aggression. The GOP is so deep into its own self-justifying racial alternative reality that there’s some genuine surprise when the claptrap doesn’t survive first contact with actual black people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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